Skip to main content

tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  July 20, 2015 11:00am-1:01pm EDT

11:00 am
we don't ask their income. we make sure an ambulance or fire truck or police officers arrives. but los angeles, i inherited a city and a city government that was very old. i used to say that we had cutting-edge technology from the 1980s. we had systems that dated back to the good government era of the 1920s and '30s. progressive back then, but never updated since. we had systems that were outdated. we have a bureaucratic culture that was os fied and an overall lack of enthusiasm and accountability from our city employees. people at the bottom didn't feel empowered. people at the top didn't feel like they had to be very accountable. i re-interviewed all my general managers and said, i want you to start counting, measuring, and sharing the goals and data we have in our city in the kind of hickenlooper, o'malley, bloomberg model of what the modern mayor is supposed to do.
11:01 am
we're supposed to measure those things, set those goals and have people hold us accountable. not run away from bad news, not cherry pick for the press, hey, i reduced crime by 1%, isn't that amazing? it's better than zero, but own the bad news, fix it, and share the good things that are happening together. and in los angeles, my philosophy has been a very simple one, to get back to the basics. to do those things that people depend on government to do. to pave streets, to help businesses create jobs. to make sure that city hall works for you and not against you. to show up when we're usually missing and to get out of the way when we're an impediment and rebuild the public trust and breathe life back into american democracy from the local level back up. and why shouldn't people expect that from government? nobody does, but why shouldn't they? our customers our constituents are the same folks that get automatic two-day shipping from amazon get uber in three minutes on their smartphone. they expect groceries on their doorstep.
11:02 am
why shouldn't city government be held to the same level of accountability? when i came in, our 311 system, when people called in and had a need or wanted to volunteer there is gravity that needs painting out or a coach that needs picking up we reduced that call time by 82% because i wanted to make sure that call was picked up quickly, led to a second and third interaction and an engaged citizen. in two years we have seen tremendous turn around in los angeles. we've seen 85,000-plus jobs, the most we've seen in pace in a decade. unemployment cut by more than 3%. cut our city's business tax, and seen our bond rating go from good to great. we've tripled our fill can tax credit by focusing on hollywood to bring jobs back to hollywood. back to california, manufacturing in the aerospace industry, looked at new emergent industries from green jobs to tech. a lot of people don't know that los angeles is now the digital tech jobs capital of the
11:03 am
country. more in l.a. county or silicon valley, more than in washington more than in new york, more than in boston. we've seen a huge investment in infrastructure. we haven't waited for washington. we haven't brought an empty hat to washington that's -- that's half filled. we have $36 billion for five new rail lines and a $10 billion redo of l.a.x. if you have flown into it, you know it needs it. a million dollars a day spent in the port of los angeles where 1 out of 50 american jobs can be traced to the ports on los angeles and long beach. 43% of our nation's goods come via sea into that port. it's critical for america's success. whether it's hollywood, which is our calling card to the world, whether it's international trade, which comes through los angeles, it isn't just a great american city it is a gateway for this country, both in and out of this country for our products and for our economy. >> we've seen a record amount of streets be paved in my city.
11:04 am
back to basics of fixing every single sidewalk. but we haven't just done old analog things, we've done new digital things. we are ranked the number one digital city in america last year. we are the number one city for open data something we share with a lot of journalists who can actually hold us accountable. they can go like me to a dashboard and look at things like where the building permits are in the city by geography or the response times for 911 broken down by how long it takes us to transfer that call, how long it takes for a fire truck to roll out, and how long that travel time is, so that we can have accountability together. and we went from unranked to number one in the country. so we're seeing a lot of positive momentum coming out of america's second city. we also most importantly are addressing the issue of inequality. if i averaged our city's prosperity, i could say l.a.'s doing amazing, more foreign investment, record amount of real estate investment, but we
11:05 am
have to look for those pockets where i can say that los angeles is the safest of the five big cities in america, but if you're in an area of high crime, who cares? i can say unemployment is down by more than 3%, but if you don't have a job, you don't feel that. so we look to those places and those neighborhoods and those households where inequality has been felt so sharply, something that's not unique to los angeles and not even unique to america anymore. but in a new economy, try to figure out creative ways to boost investment and raise wages, which is why i'm so proud we're the largest city to have raised the minimum wage, a path way to $15 an hour, lifting 600 thousand earners out of poverty. including their family members, over 1 million people. we have a shot to put that money back on main street, it's going to be spent, making sure that people can return to that american idea that if you work hard, you should be rewarded. on inequality, we haven't just
11:06 am
looked at minimum wage, though. we're looking at the housing crisis. building more than 100,000 new units of housing, a quarter of which are already under way in the pipeline. we're targeting homelessness, accepting the white house challenge first to end veterans homelessness. we're housing more in our city than all the other cities that took that pledge, over 240 vets a month. we've doubled the number of summer youth jobs. we know that is a pathway for the youth of color that are caught in communities where there aren't those palth ways. to make sure they have one, two, or three years of jobs that connect them to the employers that love the hires they're making and also make sure they're not stuck in a rut of poverty generation after generation.
11:07 am
we're tracking, because we're selected as a promise zone, many sixth and seventh graders, and showering them with all of the resources that they and their families need to escape poverty, to graduate, to go to college and to get good jobs. and the reflection of inequality, so much of the national debate whether it's policing and the gulf between many police departments and community, which in many ways is a reflection of inequality. so much the national reflection of inequality. in los angeles, the first big city in america to put cameras on every single officer, long before ferguson and staten island. we are positioned to make sure every patrol officer has a camera. a new relationship-based policing division to look at the ways we can strengthen that. and because of the pain we went through in the '90s with rodney king and other thing, we have independent investigations, an inspector general, a faith and resilience that doesn't make us immune from that conversation, but helps us address those feelings of inequality too. so i said that in los angeles, we're getting back to the basics. but there's one thing of those
11:08 am
three i's, of investment, inequality and integration. that's still held back in this country. and that's our immigrants. los angeles is an amazing community. it's the most diverse collection not just of people in america, not just people in the world, but i would offer to you and this has been researched, that los angeles is the most diverse city in human history. we have in los angeles, over 224 languages and dialects spoken. we have people from more than 115 countries of origin. one of my favorite statistics, los angeles has 39 countries where the largest population outside of that home country resides in l.a. so it's the largest collection of armenians outside of ar mean yens. thais out of thailand, et cetera, the list goes on. people of mexican descent, mexico city is number one, l.a. is number two, and you return to mexico for number three. if you rewind the clock again
11:09 am
and go back 25 years ago, as los angeles was burning in the unrest in the wake of the rodney king verdict, people and the national media talked about a race war and race riots. they wondered whether african americans and latinos and koreans would ever get along, and it was seen as a weakness of los angeles, our diversity. cut forward to last year in november, i was traveling in seoul, korea, and the mayor said, how do we get to be more like los angeles? we need more diversity like what you have. there was a recognition that a declining population in korea, a lack of diversity was making them uncompetitive, and that los angeles was suddenly seen as the model. it was a remarkable turnaround in just over two decades to what the narrative was about los angeles and even about america back then. so this diversity, which, you know, i love the expression people say, you can see the face of the world on the streets of l.a. as a side note, i've always found the opposite to be true
11:10 am
too. i'm a fourth generation angelino, growing up and embodying that diversity. i could be on the streets of cairo, tel aviv, mumbai, or mexico city, and feel at home because it looked like the face of los angeles. for us to compete as americans, and it's always been our great strength, even when our diversity didn't look as diverse as it does today, whether it was puritans and quakers, this is the place that has always been a country of second chances where the hardest working, bravest people cross rivers and oceans to come here. so i want to reserve the bulk of my remaining time to speak to you about what we must do to make sure that integration continues here in america. it's the primary driver, i believe, of our success and will be in the future. let he give you one other example. riots games, anybody heard of that? play league of legends? it's a video game online, multi player role-playing game, that is responsible for 3% of the global internet time spent by
11:11 am
all human beings, so maybe the reduction of 2% of our global productivity. it is an l.a.-based company. it didn't exist five years ago. we moved them into the city of los angeles recently part of our reducing taxes, helping people with white glove service. and often people say the old playbook for mayors is get a fortune 500 companies. they often has a couple hundred employees. this company didn't exist and we helped bring them into los angeles. i asked one of the co-founders, i said, why are you in l.a.? i graduated from the university of southern california and there are great engineers. los angeles has great universities. we have many engineers but they used to choose to leave. we're retaining more of them because of what's happening in our sector. two, i need a jumping off point to go to the world because our customers are in every country. l.a.x. is now the number one
11:12 am
airport in the world. we're ranked number five in overall traffic, but the four above us are hubs and it's people flying through that are above us. but if you get on or step off a plane and go into the city we're the busiest airport in the world. the number one air traffic corridor in the world, which is the east coast of the united states to london, will be displaced the west coast to china as the most important hub. i was a boy in 1983, there were 44 fights a week 91 stop to china now each week. he said we need a jumping off point and l.a. is perfect. but the last thing he said, we need a diverse population. i need engineers and salesmen and women who speak every language of the world, and there's no place like los angeles. this was easy. it was a no-brainer. >> so when we look at that as just a piece of what america can we need to re-embrace our diversity as the great strength
11:13 am
of this nation, something we have to figure out a pathway of integration that will be the core of who we are. i want to be clear. what i offer today is not some sort of brave, new policy area. or uncharted territory. this is a return to who we are as americans, to a core value. in some ways, a very conservative return to what we are about, and what we need to be about. the investment in our people, the eradication of inequality and, lastly, the integration of our immigrant communities. this has always been our formula for success. and it must be once again. so first and foremost, we need comprehensive immigration reform. you'll hear it a million times, but it bears repeating again. washington is failing us. i feel that as a mayor. my fellow mayors feel that, and i believe americans feel that. even as the rhetoric has shifted in a positive way, i want to
11:14 am
thank those in both parties who are saying the right thing. i came here a couple trips ago, met with tom donahue and richard trumka at the afl-cio, both of them mentioned this as one of the top if not the top issues for them. how often do we get that coalition together? not very often. when i met with republican leadership on the house, with speaker boehner with majority leader mccarthy, they both talked about how important integration was. in many ways, this reminds me of the shift in marriage equality. there was a day the rhetoric shifted and people talked about how we can achieve a measure of equality. there might have been disagreements, is it civil unions, is it marriage, but there was a shift that happened. and it is happening, so that's a positive thing. but at the same time, as the rhetoric has shifted, we haven't seen any actions come along with it. and this bipartisan rhetoric, i think is something that has transcended at the city level. we as mayors and cities are now leading because we must. we have to fill this vacuum.
11:15 am
it's a practical necessity for our communities just as much as fixing that water break of a water main, filling a pothole. it's a problem that demands solving. there are nine million legal permanent residents in america. an estimating 11 million undocumented residents in america. of which there's 1.2 million dreamers, young americans who really only know the united states of america, folks who remind me of my own grandfather, who came here without documentation, i'm sure in the day, across a border. he fled a war when his father was assassinated in the mexican revolution, and my great grandmother carried him in her arms across the border to texas and then to los angeles. and here in los angeles, or there in los angeles, he was given an opportunity. he was not drafted for world war ii because he wasn't a citizen, but he volunteered and fought as a sergeant in the united states army in the pacific theater and
11:16 am
earned his citizenship came back, learned a trade, became a barber, and now as his grandson, i'm the mayor of los angeles. the integration of his story is like the stories that we hear every single day in los angeles. folks who have graduated from ucla, who have gotten their master's in architecture by dream of being urban planners but who are working under the table in less than minimum wage jobs. who the moment they went through daca in this first round of deferred action were able to go to work at that architecture firm, help america, buy their father their first car and save up for a home, it strengthened the economy, the social fabric, and at the end, this country itself. we need to figure out a way to get people like that on a path to citizenship. we need to figure out a way not to just give them a legal status, but to engage them, involve them, hire them, and
11:17 am
make sure they're part of the core of this country. now, cities have played this role historically. think about new york in the turn of the 19th to 20th century. as people streamed off of boats from places like italy and ireland, and greece. the cities set up these citizenship integration centers where they would teach people english, where they would train them on what it meant to take part in local government, help them enroll in public schools. that's a reason why i re-established something i had as a council member established but it had fallin to the wayside, an office of immigrant affairs in the city of los angeles. we now know about 12 of these that mayors have launched or oversee around the united states. it's not an issue area, it's a value we're putting throughout government. it's not like this is the area that we deal with immigrants, for me to be successful with rec and parks policy, we have to talk to immigrants. for our libraries too do well, immigrant immigration has to be
11:18 am
a part of what we do. it is something led by dr. linda lopez, who is with me today. we're pushing forward a different way of looking at how we serve the people who are residents of los angeles. the cities for citizenship initiative is something i started with the big three mayors, with mayor emmanuel and de blasio where we started an initiative that looked at trying to integrate those folks who are legal permanent residents and get them to become citizens. the first group that i mentioned, the nine million people, that no matter what happens in the midst of the fights over daca and executive action, we have an obligation to try to help become citizens in the united states. this is a program that reaches across state lines. it is a recognition that the best way to strengthen our city is to strengthen all cities. it's a recognition that the best way to strengthen our city is to strengthen all cities. it's a collaboration of 18 cities now, not just three, we pledge naturalization resources, share best practices. we were recently honored by the
11:19 am
white house for the national medal for libraries, because we turned our libraries into citizenship centers. with a grant from citi bank and others. we have in every single branch library, 72 of them in los angeles, both librarians who are trained on information available to help folks come to their local library and get to the pathway of legal status and to citizenship. that's been tremendous. there's 150-plus libraries who applied for this medal. we're one of five in the country who won it. honored also for helping people with the affordable care act. libraries have always been a place for information, no reason they can't find jobs, health care and citizenship as well. second, we've launched a campaign called step forward l.a., which aims to engage 750,000 legal permanent residents in l.a. and as i mentioned, the centerpiece of this is our citizenship corners in our libraries.
11:20 am
but we've linked 10,000 angelinos to either legal status and/or citizenship and the best part, it's free. we're exporting it now to atlanta, to boston, we hope the model continues to go across the country. then finally the third initiative is cities united for immigration action, now more than 70 cities that have gotten involved in the hard fight around executive action and tex aus versus the united states. what is happening with texas versus the you states is simply disheartening. the executive action was a small step forward, i don't want to overstate it, but an important one. it was incremental, but it reminded me of civil unions during the marriage equality debate, something we thought would get momentum, not the promise land, but an important step forward. but even that was met by intolerance and hostility. and that hostility is something that i think is unamerican. not only because of my own family experience, but because los angeles is the epicenter of immigration reform. the county has 500,000 residents that are eligible for relief.
11:21 am
the city has 220,000 of those. let me be clear, it's not just -- i'm not trying to preach from an ethical issue. this is a practical issue. citizenship increases someone's earnings 8 to 11%. we would have increased if we got folks through executive action, the earnings of this country by $124 billion. a $230 billion increase in our gdp. tell me what other program can do that with a stroke of a pen. in my city, it was $3 billion that we're leaving on the table for the economy. like miss lopez, the woman from ucla that i mentioned a moment ago. and it increases the income of non-immigrants. for those of us who are legal citizens, we would see our income go up as well, but courts stepped in and put a stop to that. one of the reasons i'm advocated on behalf of the president's executive action, we brought 70 mayors together for this action,
11:22 am
to file a brief. we launched online action that was signed by rahm emanuel, governor de blasio. the mayor of atlanta, among others and a majority of americans, 62% support a pathway of citizenship. we can agree to disagree on how, but let's keep that core value, that we need to do that. opposition to reform is in decline. in 2024, we'll look back at today's republican primaries shocked that immigration was so hotly contested. >> just as we look back and wonder how marriage equality was taboo to both parties. and the pace with which that happened. and i want to add to a list of folks, if we look at these historic moments in american history. if we look at historic moments in america history seneca falls in 1840s and selma, alabama in 1965 delano, california that same year with farm workers and
11:23 am
massachusetts, 2004, when marriage equality started to move forward. i would add to that list, los angeles, 2015. it is the place and the date where it's ground zero for this issue. it's a movement that looks to differing ideas to spawn new solutions, but it returns to very old american values. it's a movement that calls on our politics to be a means of change, not a tool to halt progress. it's a movement that manifests the sweeping advancement by harnessing the power of our cities to integrate our immigrants. use us, use the cities as engines not just of economic prosperity, but of american integration. at the same time, figure out how we can erase and eradicate income inequality and get america back to our basics. as i mentioned, in many ways, my story is the american story. we're a country full of people who make mistake, who takes risks, who cross rivers, who cross oceans, who might hit bumps on the road, but who are the bravest, most innovative, most hardest working people on the face of the earth. we're an imperfect country, but as often is said, we are the
11:24 am
least bad, which makes us the best. and we embrace those things, admit our imperfections on the road to becoming a more perfect union. this is one of those moments where we dig into our hearts, we look at our heads, we do a gut check, and we realize that we are a country that does believe there should be some measure of equality, that we should invest in our infrastructure, both human and physical. at the end of the day that the american story is the story of the integration of a diverse population and america's cities are leading the way. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> all right. >> i'm happy to talk about the drought, which i know i didn't mention. i'm just going to enjoy this water in the meantime. >> there you go. let me just lead this off, because it's a challenge, this immigration issue, when you have donald trump and others using the kind of rhetoric they do, and you said that that would be -- it's embarrassing.
11:25 am
what do you do about that? because, what do you do about the nativist chord that he struck that has now put him at the top of the republican field in the latest polls? and when you talk about boehner and mccarthy and they tell you they agree with you on immigration, it's important, except that they're blocking the bill that the senate has passed and is languishing in the house, so how do you get past if you have any great idea on this, how do you get past the gridlock that we are at in the congress now? >> well, a couple things. one is when somebody polls at 15% of, and this could be said about democrats too, a party which is a minority of americans, democrats are as well. but you do the statistics, you're talking about 6 or 7% of americans who are saying absolutely. that's always been a part of american history. we have nativist chords throughout the know-nothings,
11:26 am
we've had many parties throughout the years and individuals who have said that, but that doesn't mean it represents america. certainly been more than 50% of the talk on the news these days, but it's not necessarily 50% of the perspectives of americans. so i return to the everyday polling that's done consistently, that shows a constant evolution and i would also say that not as a word of warning, but just a statement of fact, in 1994, it was interesting during the gubernatorial race between kathleen brown and pete wilson. pete wilson began that campaign and they looked at the top ten concerns of californians. death penalty and immigration were nine and ten. by the end of it, they were number one and two. what he found that even though it was ninth and tenth in importance, people were aligned against illegal immigration, and as he pumped it up, it became number one. he won that race. today, there is not a single republican that produced richard
11:27 am
knicks nixon or ronald reagan in our state offices. i don't think that was a punishment, i just think people felt it was out of line with their values, who we are. it's like, again, marriage equality, when it was gay people who folks didn't know, that was one thing. when it was your brother, your sister, your co-worker, your neighbor, it's another thing. i think the same thing is happening with immigration. it isn't just this caricature of folks who broke the law, come in here, doing terrible things, but it's that young woman who is here at 5 years old and graduates with honors from a great university, whose potential we're holding back, not just for her, which is the right thing to do, but the right thing for the nation. how do we break the gridlock in washington? we try to start modeling those things at the local level and build that movement up. as governors sued the president on his executive action, the reason the mayors did, some of us are mayors of cities with a population larger than the states that were suing against the governor. so it's important to remind people that americans aren't of a singular mind on this, and if you look at the polling, a
11:28 am
majority of them want to see that. and even in the republican party, people like john kasich, who is saying, we have to figure out a way to deal with the problem. i respect you if you have a different perspective on immigration from me, but offer something constructive to deal with folks who are here, because they're not going away. don't leave money on the table for our economy, don't leave human potential untapped. so it's an opportunity to engage with congressional leaders. i hope the timing will be sooner rather than later. they talk about that, but we can add the support and the pressure from the cities, and that's the main part of my message today. >> and the other part is, you apparently and are you willing to make that mantel, are leading a national effort to get cities to do their own thing with your libraries program, with your education program, with your jobs enhancement, with your citizens program?
11:29 am
you're leading a national movement to have the cities end run the congress if they remain grid locked, is that true? >> absolutely. i would say, don't seed the power you have before you try to exercise it. and i respect the constitution, it's an amazing document and the power for federal immigration policy is with the federal government, but that doesn't mean we're powerless at the local level to do anything for and with immigrants. the integration, regardless of legal status, is something we can continue to work on. we all have something to gain from that. the more integrated people are, the more we gain. it is a very straight, linear formula. >> you mentioned the drought. so what are you going to do when california goes try in two years? >> well, you know, people ask me all the time wheather i'm stressed out about the drought. i'm truly not. i'm very focused on it, but i'm not stressed. we actually have plenty of water. i know that shocks people to hear. in los angeles, we've added a million people in the last 45 years to our population, and we consumed not one more drop of water collectively than we did 45 years ago.
11:30 am
how did we do that? we changed our faucets, our appliances, we got smarter about our landscaping. there's so much water still wasted, even in a place like california, that if we are smarter about our water, we can do better. so what are we doing in los angeles? well, we have already, i set a goal of reducing our water usage just in the city by 20%. and we are hitting that goal a year early because what we did, we incentivized 50% of our usage, which was landscaping. we told them we'd pay them to $4 a square foot to change their grass out to nice, beautiful flowering, drought-tolerant plants. if you use your lawn, i say keep it, but 90% of grass never gets walked on anywhere. that's reduced our water output. we import 80% of our water into los angeles. i've set the boldest goal of any mayor whoever was mayor during
11:31 am
the mulholland years, if you watched chinatown, the incredible engineering that was done to bring every drop of water from north of los angeles, we set a goal by 2035 to have 50% of our water produced locally or obtained locally, by putting back water into our wells, by recycling water, by reusing water and by conserving water. and the last data i'll give you, 60% of the water we use every day, or the equivalent of, we which goes in a drain through your sink and toilet and shower we treat to an almost drinkable standard and then we wash it out to the ocean. imagine if we were piping that back in. we can look to israel, australia, and we're implementing those sorts of policies on a massive public awareness campaign. steve carell, other celebrities are engaged in this character we started called the drop. save the drop. he's angry with you because you're taking a shower that's too long. things like that have helped
11:32 am
turn the tide. i know there are larger state issues, the agricultural sector, drip irrigation, et cetera, but we'll have plenty of water in los angeles, and i'm confident we'll be able to meet the challenge. >> and i guess my last question, and we'll turn it over and everybody kind of have at it the city of los angeles and you just signed it, raised in phases the minimum wage to $15 an hour. that will help end inequality, but what is your counter and make the case that it isn't going to cost jobs? >> well, it's interesting. we passed that in the county of los angeles, which encompasses ten million people in the area where there's no city incorporated, they essentially are the city. so the unincorporated areas of l.a. are a million people. we're debating that right now as well. i believe they'll pass a minimum wage that's similar to ours. but they did a study and they were asked to poll a thousand businesses and the minimum wage and the impact, and i was even
11:33 am
blown away. because i know it will have a positive impact, we've seen the studies and the work in the past. but of the thousand businesses, zero of them said they would pack up and leave if the minimum wage was raised. asked what they would do, of course there are certain things that are accommodated, some would have to raise prices, some would have a few less employees, but 10 to 12% were saying negative impact, not even negative, but they would do those things. the blew me away. i think that 2/3 of businesses said it was likely they would save money by reducing the cost of employee turnover. in fast food, the turnover is 150% a year. it's like having a permanent help wanted sign. it is expensive to train people and expensive when they have sick days and when they can't live off their wages. a lot of companies are seeing this. there was a piece, i think it
11:34 am
was in the "wall street journal" that said more and more companies have seen that it's good for their bottom line to pay more. they're just recognizing the old henry ford kind of thing, if you create customers, it's a good thing. so it was one thing for politicians to say trust us, it's going to be okay, but when businesses said they did not expect to reduce staff, to reduce hours, 6% said it was likely, 0% said likely or replace workers with machines. so 72% of businesses felt their workers would know happier, better at their jobs. 45% of employees expected their staff to take on additional duties and raise prices. we will feel that but there will be much more of a virtual cycle. $1 million is put in the pockets of low income an gel leegelinos. you will see the money hit main street and help businesses.
11:35 am
identify yourself and ask the question. make sure the switch part of the mike faces out and that's how you get the best volume. >> hi, mayor. welcome to washington. >> thank you. >> i'm eric morath with "the wall street journal." on the minimum wage, you mentioned you don't have overly close ties with either unions or the chambers and those types of places. with the hotel minimum wage from last year that included that the city-wide law does not. can you explain if those carvots are snorn should other cities look at having such in their law sns. >> first of all, i'll claire fichlt i do have close ties. . i just didn't get the
11:36 am
endorsement. we are all friends now. i was proud we have labor support and business support. republican businessmen like richar russo. people like eli broed who has founded not just one but two fortune 500 companies. in terms of a carvot, i don't support that. i think a minimum wage should be a minimum wage. there should be nobody who earns underneath that. it should be an organizing tool for the hotel level signed that even though that was a part of it. i think in general for the average person, this isn't about organized labor. most people aren't part of a union. men mum wage workers almost never are. what can we do to make sure that is raised for everybody?
11:37 am
that's the pathway in los angeles. it has been overbleen. it is a smaller issue. it will hit a slow single digit percentage of workers. i'm interested in hitting the most people in the most aggressive way we can. >> thanks. >> hi. >> peggy orchowski, imthe congressional correspondent with the hispanic outlet. 50 years my wonderful hispanic town of santa barbara. i was an intern at l.a.x. in the '70s when it was the newest airport. >> we'll get it back. >> i've been covering immigration. red two books about it. i have two questions. one is. it is popular to say that congress is gridlocked over immigration reform. the big issue is between comprehensive and piecemeal.
11:38 am
there are many issues republicans agree with. many want to legalize dreamers. why does it have to be comprehensive. why can't it be piecemeal? the other thing i want you to remark about sanctuary cities the issue was brought up yesterday in a hearing. with much exacerbation. isn't that opening a pandora's box? are we going to have sanctuary cities for marriages? >> i will take whatever piecemeal i can get. if somebody said lits legalize dreamers tomorrow. the reason i psh for comprehensive. it is kind of like addressing homelessness. i am trying to end homelessness among homeless veterans. that's what i'm focused on. i want to address everybody. i think comprehensive reform
11:39 am
doesn't leave anybody behind. anybody that is here is not leaving. i think we need to solve the problem. sanctuary cities, it is funny. the term is really morphed. it was a very specific term. a lot of cities have been thrown in that technically aren't sanctuary cities. cities like san francisco who during the civil war in central america when the united states wasn't letting in certain folks that were fleeing violence we are a sanctuary city if you are experiencing violence in el sal dra door. now, it has been morphed like sanctuary for criminals which is not historically accurate. it is perverting of the words of what it is. in los angeles, as i stated recently, we do cooperate with i.c.e. any time. when we find a violent criminal and we check the immigration status, if deportation can be a part of it, that happens all the
11:40 am
time. it should happen. we do demand there would be a judicial order if we have somebody that is not at that level and i.c.e. wants us to have a detainer. we will do detainers from i.c.e. but we want to make sure there is a judge that says that there is something there. to me that is about establishing trust. people like most americans that are citizens are law abiding. don't think a local officer on a traffic stop will say, can i see your immigration papers. i would have to go and stop solving murders, rapes, the amount of works it would take for my los angeles police officers, i couldn't do my core skrob to keep the city safe. >> bill order with the national association of beverage importers. this past year we experienced a
11:41 am
debilitating time. those mayors will experience this in a year or so. same kind of contract negotiations. i asked the federal government and the white house to bring in the mediation. myself and secretary of labor and commerce were in san francisco. i was pleased we were able to resolve that short of strike. it was debilitating. i got ceos. i was here right afterwards talking to all the big importers and exporters telling them the positive news of what we are try tog do to mod earnize not just physical infrastructure by the negotiations. the east coast is different than the west coast. some of the folks that work in the unions here are more affiliated with the actual
11:42 am
companies. there is a different model. so it is traditionally been a little bit more harmonious. but, that doesn't mean there can't be strikes and unrest. what i would say to everybody and what got us through the log jam, this isn't just a union or an industry issue. when we look out of the 1 out of 50 jobs that depended on the ports in long beach whether it was a small retailer or a huge retailer like home depot or gap. the impact it had was debilitating on the american economy. elevate this up more than you are dealing with the teamsters and the sanitation department who might be striking. . this is a real american issue. i would do what we are doing for the next round an establish we are not going to back this up to the 11th hour and get an agreement to make sure both sides don't have an agreement there can't be any slowdowns.
11:43 am
work never stopped. it just slowed down. we had 24 ships off the coast. we had whole seasons missed in the retail sector. i can guarantee this next round will start early. we're going to bring in the big guys and gals and similarly with the unions to make sure they understand we are all breathing down their necks. the end, when i said america is looking at this and sees you guys as incompetent. they said, who is looking at us that way. you have been so much in your own negotiations you don't realize the west coast economy is falling apart and it is impacting the entire united states. that's finally how we broke the log jam. >> we want to give priority to media that have questions. if you are with a media outlet, raise your hand. in the back with your hand up, stand. s.r.o., mr. mayor? >> i'm sorry. sean higgens with the
11:44 am
"washington examiner." if the l.a. county doesn't come up with a minimum wage that's close to or matching the city's is that going to be disruptive for the metro area economy? because there would then be a two-tiered wage system? >> i think it will be but not in the way most imagine. if you have a higher minimum wage, it is a negative effect on you, because it creates a wage island. i would say the opposite is what happens. you create poverty pockets. if you have a lower minimum wage across the border the best workers come into the city of l.a., the most motivated and the best trained come into the city of l.a. our businesses will continue to benefit. we looked at some really good empirical data on this even in the industries that depend on labor, like restaurants. county against county, that raise the minimum wage. that didn't happen. they didn't go out of business. where there was a poor community like we saw some poor cities in the bay area start a minimum
11:45 am
raise or a rich city like san francisco. i tell other cities, don't do this because i'm asking a favor to make sure it doesn't hurt us but do it for yourself. workers can cross city borders. in los angeles they can live in another city and come into the city of l.a. who wouldn't want to work at a mcdonald's for $15 an hour when another place is stuck at ten. when the employer of a mcdonald's in los angeles, can pick the very best they will get the very best. >> media or club members, great? >> hi. my name is jordan. i'm with "the german press agency." with the minimum wage at $15, do you encourage all cities, all states even in the u.s. to raise to $15 or do you think that l.a. is in a unique position with population and dost ofcost of living? >> i don't. i would but different years. $15 is a fine number to organize
11:46 am
towards. i do think that it would be great to raise the basement nationally but we're not seeing that happen in congress any time soon. i hope it will. it has very strong bipartisan support in polling. the majority of republicans and an overwhelming majority of democrats support raising the minimum wage. i think different economies are different. you need to cater it towards what is right for your own city. >> we'll take one or two more and then we'll be done. >> kevin turken with the "associated press." since you required judicial order for these detainer requests, what has the impact been and have you seen a decline in requests since then? >> no. we have seen it be pretty constant. we have talked to i.c.e. they have asked, do you want to have a few crimes that are in a different category? that's part of the new pep
11:47 am
discussions and we have engaged dhs and some of our immigrant groups in los angeles to see whether that's something in the future. we haven't seen a decline or increase. it's been pretty constant. that's something that we have had before. obviously, we had that policy in place long before we made it official that informally, with he don't have the time to do it quite frankly too is one of the other issues. if the federal government wants to have that mandated and if we do agree, remind td federal government to give us the resources to help us do it. we are already overtaxed and overburdened to deal with everyday street crimes, property crimes. if you want us to take on some of these responsibilities, give us the resources to do it. >> one in the back there. >> go ahead in the back and then maybe we'll conclude. >> hi i'm hannah isaacs with "moment" magazine. you said your commitment to social justice comes from
11:48 am
judaism. would you say that raising the minimum wage and pursuing immigrant reform are formed by jewish values? >> i am not the first. there was a guy in the 1880s who was the city council president and then the mayor died. so he was the mayor for two weeks. i'm the first jewish elected mayor. not just because of the cultural tides but whether it is the immigrant experience because of both my jewish and mexican sides. we have a responsibility. it is not charity but it is a responsibility of our covenant to make sure that we take care of those that need us and to heal a broken world, there is no question these things come from that. my grandfather on my mom's side, harry roth, is an interesting american success story. he was the son of immigrants from russia and poland that are fleeing at the time of the early
11:49 am
20th century. his father came to los angeles and was a tailor. he took up his profession. he decided to take his father's name, lewis roth and turn it into a suit company. louis roth was one of the finest clothes companies in 1960s. jack val enty who was tapped after the kennedy assassination, he came here to doctor c. and looked at johnson the way he was dressed and said you look like a schlub. let's get you a nice suit. my grandfather, harry roth became the tailor to the president of the united states of america. the story could end there and it would be nice. he was personally opposed to the vietnam war. he was very active in progressive politics. as a businessman, he had a union shop aclu unionman of the year. it wore on him more and more. he had a crossroads where he said, i have to speak out and say something about this but lose my most important and
11:50 am
famous client or remain silent and keep him. it wasn't a tough choice. he took out full page ads in "the new york times" with my grandmother telling president johnson in 1968 not to run for re-election and to get out vietnam and offering to pay him in his retirement a little money. and it made national news, it was in "time" magazine et cetera. and i grew up with that story. my grandfather died when i was young, i was about 5 years old, but it showed that you stand up for what you believe in even at the price of your own sacrifice, at your own well-being. and those come from social justice, judaism and other things that he was raised with but even more being an american and realizing this country had given him these opportunities and he had an obligation to speak up and speak out on the things that he believed in. >> okay. i've got to ask this now because you raised it at the beginning and this conversation just took place. should israel and the world feel safer or feel threatened by the iran deal? >> well, as the mayor of
11:51 am
tehrangeles, it is something that has definitely set the city abuzz in los angeles. for a loss of iranians they look forward to engagement. we're sister cities with tehran we're not active sister cities obviously since 1979. but the opportunities for engagement are important. but secondly i think that it is -- the pathway is not between whether or not we have safety or not. i think that we see a pathway towards a bomb with no agreement, and i in general am cautiously optimistic and supportive of the president's efforts for sure. i think it took a lot of political courage to go. and even in israel, i think there's a range of opinions about this. as an american jew, as mayor of a city with many iranian americans, i think that it has much more positive to offer than negative. that we shouldn't fear that. staying and keeping engaged has
11:52 am
much more benefit economically and certainly in terms of security. but we have to keep a careful eye. i know the president said this is all about verification, not trust. and i like that because it has to have that snapback piece of it that allows a majority. by the way, which means that china, russia and iran cannot veto but a majority of states and that could be u.s., britain france germany are able to immediately say that this is being violated and put those sanctions back makes me feel relatively secure that if the iranians don't live up to their agreement that we will have the security to go at least back to the status quo, which isn't very good today, by the way, but at least the status quo. >> okay. we'll take one more question. do you guys have one? >> yeah. >> okay. >> very exciting internship. it sounds like you've implemented a lot of great initiatives in los angeles and you've been doing a great job but what are your comments on the recent spike in crime there,
11:53 am
and also kind of saddleback on that, how do you view obama's recent 46 pardons onto nonviolent drug offenders and how can that kind of fit into your city? >> first of all, i think it's great that a bipartisan coalition is taking up justice reform. we spend way too much in a stupid way on criminal justice matters. i want to keep the bad guys and gals locked up but too much of our criminal justice system puts the wrong people away for too long and does nothing to transform them into productive citizens. i admire the work that my friend, cory booker, is doing on this issue. it came out of his experience as a mayor in newark, where he opened an office of re-entry to help people coming out of jail and prison to get jobs and integrate. it's a model we're looking at in los angeles as well. i don't know the individual pardons but by and large i'm sure the president is doing the right thing. these are probably ones we'd all look at and say that's ridiculous. we could spend a lot less money transforming who these folks are than keeping them locked up at a
11:54 am
very expensive cost for all of us. in los angeles, i've said you've got to own the bad news as well as the good news. los angeles is still the safest of the big five cities and the crime levels even with a small uptick are as safe as we've seen since the 1950s per capita. but any increase is troubling. so immediately what we look to do is try to implement and we're seeing this across the country, an uptick in violent crime. is it demographics, something changing, the hangover from the recession? we're not sure what the causes are but we're not going to be flat-footed on the response. we've already seen a tapering off on the increase this year. we have more mobile police officers to be able to go to areas where there's a crime spike before it becomes a crime wave. second doing a lot of prevention and intervention work. i'm very proud of los angeles' national model for things like our summer night lights program which keeps our parks open late at night. we've seen a 40% drop in crime in every park where we offer programs for kids because they become the victims of and sometimes the perpetrators of violent crime in the summertime
11:55 am
and the weekends. second, looking at former gang members who now work in those areas where most crime in los angeles is gang crime, most homicides are. so we need people who know the landscape, have transformed their own lives but can get between the guns and stop the retribution violence that happens and that's our gang reduction individual development zones. third, we saw a big increase in aggravated assaults. that may be because we reclassified how we're counting them but also saw domestic violence go up. i hope this is something nationally that we'll continue to have a conversation on. in los angeles, we rolled out a program to have civilians go out with our police officers in every single division. because you talk to a cop they go back to the same address time and time again for a domestic violence call and it often escalates and sometimes it's very tragic when they come and somebody has killed. the idea is to intervene early. it's often a woman, not always, but more often than not a woman and her children. give them the job training, a security, a place for their pets.
11:56 am
all those things that keep them back. to go in and help the officers hand that off to folks who can give them legal and personal help. so we have a full range of things we're doing to address. the last thing we're doing is continuing to build trust between the community and the department. i'm proud that los angeles like i said is more resilient. it hasn't been that we haven't had shootings of unarmed civilians. some of them police are on the pathway to getting consequences of that. other times when it's been seen as a justified self defense or as public safety move. but in los angeles as i mentioned, partially because of the pain of what we went through, we have independent investigations, we have a civilian police commission. we're putting body cameras out there and i think that will address the trust that you have to have to bring crime down too. >> i think we are concluded. thank you all very much. thank you all very much for coming. mayor, it was fantastic. >> thank you. >> you really got a lot to say. >> thanks so much. have a great day.
11:57 am
starting live shortly here on c-span 3, a discussion at the cato snus on u.s. drug policy and new sip thetic drugs. we'll be hearing from the president of the criminal justice policy foundation and the author of the book "the fire next door." mexico's drug violence and the danger to america. while they're getting set up at cato, we'll take a quick look at the week ahead in congress. >> thanks for joining us. what are the key legislative items on tap this week, just a few weeks ahead of that august recess break? >> that's right. good morning, john thanks for
11:58 am
having me. you know i think it's going to be all highways all the time. it's the last thing that they have to do the last must-pass piece of legislation they have to do before they leave for the long august recess. the trust fund -- there is a time restraint because the trust fund dips below a certain level at the end of this month and that means it's going to cut off aid to states and other local governments and very few lawmakers want to go back home and explain to people there why they're not getting highway funds. so there's a lot of pressure on congress to do this. they have done it, you know a number of times over the past -- i think the statistic i read today was since 2009 they have passed 34 short-term funding bills. and so the real trick is do they do a short-term patch or do they do a longer term fix. and they're going to have -- the house has already passed its bill. last week it passed an $8
11:59 am
billion bill. the senate republicans want to do something much longer. mitch mcconnell wants to do something that gets you at least through the 2016 elections. and then there's another group a bipartisan group of senators that wants to do something much longer than that. they want to do a six-year bill. but a lot of sticking points here and the number one concern is going to be the pay force of course. a lot of disagreements partisan disagreements about how you pay for it so you can expect all those fights to be taking place this week. >> is there enough time here for a long-term patch for that fight to happen in the senate and the house? and at what point does the senate abandon those plans if it's not working for a short-term patch? >> yeah, that's a good question. the question is -- the answer is it depends on who you ask. there are guys out there who think that there is time. a lot of these are not new. people have been working on them many, many years so the truck is
12:00 pm
just getting more and more people on board. as the week evolves we'll know pretty quickly, i think if people are getting on board and if there is a possibility for a longer term plan. again, the two ideas we see floated in the senate, one is an $80 billion bill that would get you through the 2016 elections. that's what senator mcconnell is looking at. and then there's even a group that wants a $275 billion six-year deal. no one really thinks that that's possible, at least this month. so good question. when do they just go back to the house bill, pass the $8 billion and get you through december and how long do they keep fighting for the $80 billion. we don't know the answer to that. and here now at the cato institute, a discussion on u.s. drug policy and new synthetic drugs. >> the topic today is extremely timely. news organizations have
12:01 pm
recently -- as recently as yesterday in "the washington post," front page story, have talked about the proliferation of synthetic or designer drugs that produce psychological and physical effects similar to those of traditional mind-altering substances, such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. policy makers have really scrambled to outlaw substances that can sometimes regain legal status with a modest change in chemical makeup. some of the new drugs even masquerade as such innocuous perfectly legal products such as air fresheners or potpourri. the question that we're debating today, or several really, is can these mind-altering substances be outlawed without resorting to tortured legal rationales. are there alternatives to a prohibitionist strategy, or could policy makers better promote public safety by
12:02 pm
requiring strict production standards, but not attempting to ban their use. in this recent cato policy analysis, we have copies outside this room if you'd like a copy. for those of you watching online, this is also available online. this new study by cato senior fellow ted carpenter examines the issues we'll be talking about today. i'm very pleased to welcome him here. his remarks will be followed by comments by eric sterling and jacob hornberger. first, though, a few words about my friend and mentor, ted. ted galen carpenter is a senior fellow for defense in foreign policies here at cato. he served as cato's director of foreign policy studies from 1986 to 1995 and then as vice president for defense and foreign policy studies from 1995 to 2011. he's the author of nine and the editor of ten books on international affairs, including "the fire next door mexico's drug violence and the danger to
12:03 pm
america" and "bad neighbor policy, washington's futile war on drugs in latin america." those are directly relevant to this topic more broadly. among his other books include "smart power toward a prudent foreign policy for america." he is a contributing editor to the national interest and serves on the editorial boards of mediterranean quarterly and journal of strategic studies and is the author of more than 600 articles and policy studies. his articles have appeared in "the new york times," "the washington post," "the wall street journal" "los angeles times," "financial times" foreign affairs and many others. he's a frequent guest on tv and radio in europe, east asia and elsewhere. he received his ph.d. in u.s. diplomatic history from the university of texas. with that, ted carpenter. >> thank you very much, chris.
12:04 pm
he's certainly correct that this is a timely topic. it seems like every time you turn around lately there is a major news article about synthetic drugs and the alleged threat to public health and safety. now, my study focuses on designer drugs, which is a subset of synthetic drugs, artificial substances that mimic the effects of traditional mind-altering drugs. now, synthetic drugs have been around for a number of decades. we certainly are familiar with the methamphetamine phenomenon in the united states and that's been around for better than three decades. and if you go back even farther than that back to the 1960s and the flap over the use of lsd. so this is not a new issue per
12:05 pm
se. what we have seen, though in the past five years or so is a new family of synthetic drugs. those are the ones i call designer drugs. and there are two major categories. there's some exceptions to this, but two major categories. one, synthetic marijuana often goes by the name of k-2 or spice. and then bath salts, which mimic the effects of cocaine and flakka is probably the best known of that category. now, as chris indicated, a lot of the designer drugs are marketed as perfectly legal substances. everything from potpourri to air freshener to pet food. and most of those substances are
12:06 pm
explicitly labeled not for human consumption. well let's just say people have disregarded those warning labels with a vengeance. and the increased use of designer drugs, and most of those are coming from production sites either in mexico or even more commonly now suburban sites in china and then shipped over to the united states and other markets. as use levels have risen the news media stories have also surged and often with scare headlines about the dire, dire threat to public health and safety. now, there's no question there's been a surge of use in so-called
12:07 pm
designer drugs. just accessing the data on visits to emergency rooms or poison control centers and so on would show there's been a tremendous surge over the last five, six seven years. and the drug prohibitionists argue that this poses an especially serious threat to children. john sherbenski who is an official of the drug enforcement administration insists bluntly, and i quote, the biggest user population of these drugs are 12 to 17-year-olds. his rationale for that is that because these drugs at least until recently, have had an aura of legality and that they were very easy to get, therefore
12:08 pm
children were especially prone to use them. i was always extremely skeptical about that argument. for one thing, children and usually by that we're talking about teenagers have had very little trouble getting access to explicitly illegal substances over the years. if you visit any high school in america, i assure you within 15 to 30 minutes, you will know who the local drug dealers are. the students know who they are and can refer you very easily. and many of us can testify through personal experience that it was never difficult to get our hands on liquor, even though theoretically we were barred from access to such substances until the age of 21.
12:09 pm
i can testify my own personal experience, that i drank more from the ages of 15 to 21 than i have since 21. so there's the easy access argument, i think, falls apart pretty readily. what about his argument that most users of designer drugs are 12 to 17-year-olds. well again, we don't have great data on this yet. but i think it's pertinent to note that the argument that drug use, illicit drug use generally is a special menace to children has been a common theme of prohibitionists for decades. they use it with regard to traditional illegal drugs. and yet the 2013 survey on drug use and health by the substance
12:10 pm
abuse and mental health services administration confirmed the findings of earlier surveys that the use of marijuana and other illegal drugs is predominantly an adult vice. well in excess of 80% of users are over the age of 18. and there is very little in the data regarding synthetic drugs. preliminary as it is, to indicate that the pattern is different with those substances. moreover synthetic drugs don't seem all that popular among teenagers to begin with. natural marijuana, which is the mildest and least harmful of illicit drugs, is still by far their drug of choice. the university of michigan's monitoring the future study in 2014 found that some 35% of high school seniors reported using
12:11 pm
marijuana during the previous year. and that figure has been remarkably steady over the past two decades or more. and it's a personal thing with me, but i get irritated every time i hear teenagers, and especially those in their late teens described as children. let's face it high school seniors are either already adults, they're already 18 or they're 17-year-olds on the threshold of adulthood. they are hardly children. so i think we want to keep that in perspective. moreover, if we look at drug use among teenagers, the synthetic drug issue is not all that big a problem. figures from the 2014 university of michigan study the
12:12 pm
monitoring the future study, found that the use of synthetic marijuana actually declined steadily through all three groups surveyed 8th graders 10th graders and 12th graders. among 12th graders, previous use in the previous months of synthetic marijuana went from 11.4% to less than 6%. this is not consistent with the theory of an epidemic of designer drug use. the trend in the use of bath salts showed a similar pattern. and moreover contrary to the scare headlines in the media that illicit drug didn't seem very popular to begin with. in 2012 fewer than 2% of high school seniors reported using bath salts during the previous 12 months. in the 2014 survey, it was
12:13 pm
barely 1%. again, this is not consistent with the theory of an epidemic. now, i don't want to argue that the use of synthetic drugs is without its problems. synthetic drugs most certainly have caused problems. most of the problems are associated with two things. either questions about purity, questions about dosage. and that is a problem with all illegal drugs. that's not unique to synthetics. but users of synthetic drugs have charged that nobody knows what's in this stuff. well, again, that is an inherent problem within a prohibition system. prohibition does a wonderful job of pushing the trade of a
12:14 pm
substance into the hands of the most unscrupulous elements in society. it empowers and enriches criminal enterprises. and those enterprises are not going to be overly concerned to put it mildly, about the health and safety of their customers. so -- and this has been a problem with traditional drugs not just synthetics. that you get a dose, you're going to use it. you have no idea how strong that dose might be. whether it might be perfectly safe or it might be lethal or something in between. and the same thing with the purity aspect. you may have drugs that are contaminated with other substances, even highly toxic substances. that is an inherent problem within a prohibition system. prohibition certainly doesn't
12:15 pm
solve any of those problems, it makes them worse. and as with more traditional drugs, trying to outlaw synthetic drugs is a fool's errand. even highly repressive highly socially conservative societies have found that they have not been able to stem the use of synthetic drugs. in my study i cite two examples russia and iran, which i think everyone would concede are highly conservative societies. and in the case of iran they even execute drug traffickers. and yet both societies have experienced a very significant rise in the use of synthetic drugs. in iran for example, that is rapidly displacing more traditional drugs. in russia, it is displacing a
12:16 pm
lot of the heroin that came from afghanistan in previous decades. now synthetics are apparently the drug of choice. so even these highly conservative highly repressive societies have not been able to stamp out that kind of drug use. when you consider our own society, for heaven sakes we're not even able to keep drugs out of maximum security prisons. what are our chances of keeping them out of a free and open society? the answer is we have no chance of doing that. then what do we do? do we ignore the problem? not necessarily. i think there are things we can do. but the goal should be to channel the trade in these substances as well as other currently illicit drugs into legal channels, into the hands
12:17 pm
of reputable businesses. and that means requiring standards of labeling and dosage so that customers know what they're getting. and then as citizens of a free society, they get to make their own decisions. people -- at least a percentage of the population seems to have a great desire to get high one way or the other. for heaven sakes, people have been sniffing glue and paint thinner for decades. we're not about to outlaw those substances either. we certainly wouldn't be effective if we tried. so again, the focus ought to be on a harm reduction policy one that tries to channel the trade as much as possible into the hands of reputable businesses, guarantees accurate labeling and dosage, and then allows people to remain free to make their own
12:18 pm
decisions for good or ill. nobody said the ability to make these decisions will always ensure wise decisions. that's a matter of individual responsibility. but the one thing we can be sure is that prohibition of synthetic drugs, prohibition of these designer drugs, is not going to work any better than prohibition has with regard to alcohol in the 1920s or early 1930s or more traditional illicit drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine in the decades since then. we ought to at least learn from that lesson and not apply the same failed model to this new phenomenon. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, ted. now let me introduce our two distinguished commentators. since 1989, eric sterling has
12:19 pm
been the president of the criminal justice policy foundation, a private nonprofit educational organization that helps educate the nation about criminal justice issues and failed global drug policy. mr. sterling was counsel to the u.s. house of represent afternoons committee on the judiciary from 1979 to 1989 where he was a principal aide responsible for developing legislation. for example, and directly related to today's discussion, mr. sterling has counselled the house judicial committee processed the emergency scheduling amendment in the 1984 comprehensive crime control act and the designer drug enforcement act of 1986. and he was the principal staffer in developing the chemical diversion and trafficking act of 1988, part of the anti-drug abuse act of 1988 that brought many of the common reprecursor chemicals under dea jurisdiction. including the ban on the manufacture and distribution of
12:20 pm
three neck round bottom flasks which he tells me some people find hilarious. i don't know what that is, but he's going to explain it to us. three-neck round bottom flasks. i don't have one, so -- maybe that's why because it's against the law. but mr. sterling helped found and serves on the board of directors of families against mandatory minimums and marijuana majority and the voluntary committee of lawyers and a number of other boards. eric received a b.a. in 1973 from haverford college and his j.d. from villanova law school in 1976. if all that wasn't enough he graduated from hurricane island outward bound school in 1968 and led wilderness canoe trips and climbed the matterhorn in 1979. i can't top that. our second commentator today is jacob hornberger, the founder and president of the future of freedom foundation.
12:21 pm
he was born and raised in laredo, texas, and received his b.a. in economics from the virginia military institute and his law degree from the university of texas. he was a trial lawyer for 12 years in texas. he was also an adjunct professor at the university of dallas where he taught law and economics. in 1987, mr. hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the foundation for economic education. he's advanced freedom and free markets on talk radio stations all around the country and on a number of television shows, including fox news new year's eve cavuto and greta van susteren and he and regularly on "freedom watch." with that, eric take it over. thank you. >> chris thank you so much for that lovely introduction. it's really a tremendous honor for me to be invited to speak to cato. i started attending sessions such as this at cato in i think 1981 when their offices were
12:22 pm
right across the street from the library of congress. and certainly my thinking as a young congressional staffer was profoundly shaped by the speakers that i heard at cato. and to be asked to speak to cato is really a high point for me. and to be on this distinguished panel. this question of synthetic drugs that we're addressing is obviously a tremendous deja vu for me professionally, but it should be in some sense a deja vu for libertarians my age or so. this is a copy of "inquiry" magazine from february 1984. the title is "the war on drugs is over. the government has lost" by jack schaefer who was managing editor at the time. jack is now a senior political writer here in washington for politico. and he lays out in this article
12:23 pm
the war on drugs is over the government has lost, essentially the story that we're facing right now dealing with synthetics. you know, he -- and so i want to sort of give him credit for sort of being so presient in this. in this february article before the legislation i was involved in passed, he noted that early on that in california, synthetics for drugs like heroin has already begun. unless we turn away from drug prohibition and learn to live with the drugs we already have we will be awash in a flood of cheap and deadly synthetic drug substitutes. i think it is important that the drugs that we are talking about really are quite harmful. in contrast to have drugs like marijuana and heroin. heroin legally obtained, safely
12:24 pm
injected does not lead to crime. it doesn't cause tissue damage, it doesn't lead to insanity. you're simply addicted and you have to manage your constipation. but, you know, heroin users survive and can live very productive lives with a safe form of heroin as opposed to criminal market forms. the story of these analog synthetic problems is not a new one, it's an old one that pcp when it was banned then spawned pce and other kinds of analogs that were equally dangerous. it was a synthetic heroin that was available in the early 1980s called fentanyl and in fact fentanyl is one of the drugs, the subject of the mandatory minimum penalties that congress enacted in 1986.
12:25 pm
a drug demerol with an active ingredient, there's an analog of that that was being developed called mppp. the sin thisz is a very trickery zint sis and it was being made improperly with mptp and people were showing up with the symptoms of parkinsonism and this was highlighted as the dastardly consequences of those terrible drug traffickers, without understanding that this was a dynamic that flowed out of prohibition. the alternative to finding heroin, finding opiates has been an old one. there was something called ts and blues. drugs were combined and people tried to get high that way or people would try to use tylenol
12:26 pm
4. in the efforts to stop this -- in the library efforts one problem is there's underground literature about how to make these drugs. jack makes the point that a number of these articles were wrong, that they misstated how to synthesize methamphetamine what the processes were so that we even had backyard chemists botching the job supposedly following the recipes they got from the sort of precursors of the internet. so jack concluding his article saying what can dea do to stem the synthetics it hasn't already tried. control the chemicals needed? in 1988 congress passed a very comprehensive precursor bill called the chemical diversion and trafficking act. it was very interesting to see that at that time the chemistry
12:27 pm
industry was really unable to sort of recognition they are now going to be regulated not merely by epa but by dea, and the dea's approach is going to be very, very different. it was very interesting for me as a congressional staffer trying to see how civil society how the interest groups might respond. here's an interest group that was unable to mobilize to sort of see what the implications were for them of this new regulatory approach. we see that the drugs are still -- the precursors are still getting into mexico, they're still getting into the united states. so jack asks bust more labs. well, we saw the consequence of busting more labs. you know in the united states we saw the increased power that the sinaloa cartel has had. jack says well, license lab equipment. and this brings me to the story of the three-neck round bottom
12:28 pm
flasks. the synthesis of methamphetamine required that a particular piece of lab equipment was used called a three-neck round bottom flask. that was the standard laboratory piece. and so congress banned it. but it didn't ban four-neck round bottom flasks. and all of course one would have to do is put a plug into the fourth of the neck and you would still be able to have a four-neck round bottom flask do everything that your three-neck round bottom flask would have. i don't know how many of you know alexander shulgan, a chemist in california who is sort of known for the reintroduction of mdma, commonly known as ecstacy, into a popular society. a scientist who was very interested in the exploration of drugs and how they affect consciousness.
12:29 pm
and i knew sasha, you know met frequently. at one point we're talking about chemistry and i'm telling him the story of the three-neck round bottom flask and he says that's the most hysterical act of congress i can imagine. you know here's clearly congress trying to do something which is so pointless on its face. and so he was the one who cracked up regarding this. and finally of course if you can't license the lab equipment, then do you jail everyone who has access to a library. and of course that doesn't happen. we know that there are enormously harsh penalties for these drugs, for these analogs. jack in quotes, a mentor of mine, dr. arnold treback arnold says the clandestine synthetics may well soon swamp drug markets
12:30 pm
and deliver the coup degraus to an international drug system. jack says in a society aztec logically advanced as ours, the government can't keep people from experimenting with drugs. the government crackdown has only speeded up the process and fouled the market with drugs of uncertain purity and potency. we see these terms called synthetic marijuana, and why might there be synthetic marijuana? well, the answer is obvious, because the law still punishes harshly the production of high quality marijuana that can be produced without contamination. we're now finding in the legal regulated marijuana markets in colorado and washington, in the legal states, that we're putting in laboratory controls. i'm in maryland on the maryland medical cannabis commission where our regulations are going to require that every batch be tested by an independent testing
12:31 pm
laboratory. we can produce safe, high quality cannabis and we can eliminate the market for synthetic marijuana. these things called incense and bath salts, they're clearly intended for human consumption. and it seems to me that the prosecutors who say, oh there's nothing we can do haven't been sufficiently creative in getting the targets of these investigations. why does a gas station sell something by the cash register called incense or bath salts? you know, it's inconceivable to me that you can't send in a sufficient number of well trained informants to get the clerk, you know, to make some kind of statement that indicates that the clerk understands that this is for human consumption. and so i'll simply conclude by saying that the government is struggling to go along.
12:32 pm
in 2012 congress passed the synthetic drug -- it had one of these titles. it was the synthetic drug abuse prevention act of 2012, as though that's going to happen. they added to schedule 1 five specific classes of compounds, 15 specific -- cannibimedic compounds were specifically banned as well as 11 of the kinds of chemicals that were sold as bath salts. this will simply set up the opportunity for additional kinds of compounds to be sold. and the popular -- the public's demand to get high to relieve pain, whether it's from the mentally ill or the mentally --
12:33 pm
or intellectually curious -- the mentally sound or intellectually curious, that's going to take place, and the public remains at risk until these drugs are properly regulated and controlled, sold by licensed laboratories, come with appropriate kinds of warnings and we abandon the approach that i was a part of during the 1980s. thank you. >> thank you, eric. [ applause ] >> thank you. it's great to be back here at the cato institute participating in a program here. cato has done such great work advancing liberty. it's a special honor to be on this panel that i think ted knows that he's one of my real-life libertarian heroes, so it's a special honor to be here on a panel discussing his paper. as i was reading through this paper and as i was listening to ted's remarks and eric's remarks as well, i think the central message that was coming through to me throughout all this was
12:34 pm
that just the utter futility of this war. that no matter what the drug warriors do, no matter what they do, it's not going to change anything. it's a classic case of just utter futility. and i was thinking back to an open letter written in 1990, six years after this article that eric was talking about. an open letter by milton friedman that happened in "the wall street journal" and it was to bill bennett, who was the drug czar at that time. and friedman said to bennett, the same sort of thing that ted says in this paper. he says bill you know i beseech you to end this war on drugs. this is 25 years ago. because it will not accomplish what you hope to accomplish. it will only bring death, destruction and a loss of well
12:35 pm
being for the people in society. and then he cites, friedman cites a column that he wrote 17 years before in 1973 when the drug war was really getting ramped up. and in that article as a matter of fact, he made the same point that ted makes in this paper about designer drugs. friedman pointed out that crack cocaine was developed as a response to the government's crackdown on regular crack. regular cocaine, i mean. that because it was so expensive, that the black market brought into existence the crack cocaine much cheaper more addictive, and of course that went on to ravage people in the inner cities especially african-americans. so here you have this, this program that is utterly futile. and why would it surprise us?
12:36 pm
if you just look at basic laws of supply and demand that we all learn in our little economics classes, that here the government enacts a law that says no one is permitted to take drugs anymore. and you see their expectation is that everybody is going to obey the law. i mean it's the law, right? i mean hey we don't need to worry about it anymore, we just made it illegal. well, life just doesn't work that way. when you make a peaceful activity illegal that people want to engage in, there's a high probability that people are going to continue engaging in that activity despite what the law says and especially for drug addicts or people that just enjoy taking drugs. and so they violate the law. and then of course you put out a business, as ted said. all the reputable businesses, the pharmacies, the pharmaceutical companies and you turn over the distribution network to the unsavory types, the drug lords the drug gangs,
12:37 pm
the people that couldn't give a hoot whether somebody tries from corrupted drugs or not as ted pointed out. so the drug warriors get really angry about that so they go after the drug lords and the drug gangs. yeah they incarcerate them on a regular basis. all that does is generate extremely high prices exorbitant profits that induces more people to get into the drug supply business, including regular, ordinary people who see a chance for a quick score and of course never dreaming that they're going to get caught. now, if the consequences of this war were benign. if it was just a matter of giving something to do for federal judges and federal prosecutors and dea agents and deputy sheriffs that would be one thing. we could probably say let's let them have their jobs and things, but it's not like that. there are tremendous adverse effects from this thing. you've got the corruption, of course, the bribes among the
12:38 pm
judiciary and the prosecutors and the law enforcement agents. you've got the asset forfeiture laws where the cops are stealing money from people, innocent people, on highways. a classic case of highway robbery. you've got the mass if infringements on civil liberties, the bashing down of people's doors the shooting of innocent people, shooting their pets. you've got massive invasions of financial privacy. i mean it just never stops. just a few days ago, some u.s. official said about the drug lord that just escaped from the mexican prison, "el chapo," he says that man has destroyed thousands of lives and we're going to get him back into jail. well, that may be. but the fact is that the drug warriors have destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives if not millions with death and destruction and of course overfilling the penitentiaries. the penitentiary is the biggest
12:39 pm
business in america today, primarily because of the drug war. as chris said, i grew up on the border in laredo. and so when i was in high school in the late '60s when the drug war was starting to get going i had friends whose lives were destroyed by the drug war with felony convictions and so forth for small quantities of marijuana. but we also went in across the river into nueva laredo on dates, we had a great time. it was a great place to grow up and have fun. tourists were flooding the border area. they'd get a taste of old mexico. not anymore. what friedman said and what ted says today is that this drug war is just -- it's so destructive it has destroyed the fabric of mexican society. none of my friends in laredo ever goes across the river anymore, it's too dangerous. that's because of the drug war. and one of the consequences i'm glad that ted brought this out in his paper and i'm glad that he emphasize it it in this talk
12:40 pm
is this concept of overdose. we hear it all the time. somebody dies of a drug overdose. in virtually every case, it's never a drug overdose. that's what they say in order to detract attention away from the real cause of the problem. the real cause is the corrupted drug, the polluted drug that's a direct result of the illegality, because as ted points out, the drug lord the drug gang, they couldn't careless if somebody dies. they certainly don't have to worry about a lawsuit, products liability, as they would in an unhampered market economy where pharmaceuticals are very careful about what kind of drugs are produced. they put the seals on the caps really well and they're careful. because they know that one death will cause a massive loss of market share, possibly bankruptcy and of course big lawsuits. and that's one of the real, real tragic consequences of the war on drugs. addicts, okay. drug addiction is a tragedy but
12:41 pm
it's even more, a bigger tragedy when they die because of the drug war itself. finally, i should wrap this up by saying that as futile as this drug war is, as destructive as it is, that that's not the real reason why we should call for the end to this war. i mean we see the futility like when they say about "el chapo" we're going to put him back in jail, we're going to make sure he's incarcerated for the rest of his life without parole, like they did with ross olbrick, the silk road guy. and for what? what's the point? they put him back in jail or they don't nothing is going to change any more than it has changed over the last 40 years. but the real reason that we want to end this war on drugs is not just the futility of it but because of the concept of human freedom. ted mentioned russia and iran as
12:42 pm
conservative examples of the war on drugs. let's look at the leftist examples like cuba and north korea and china and vietnam, all of which have drug laws and have a drug war, because a drug war is inherent to a tyrannical totalitarian, awe authoritarian regime. it is only in free societies where people are -- where it's recognized that people have a right as a concept of human freedom itself toin ingest whatever they want toin gest for matter now dangerous or harmful. if there was ever any reason why we should end this futile war on drugs, it's because we the american people, stand for freedom. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> thank you, jacob and eric. i'm going to exercise my authority as -- tyrannical authority as moderator and
12:43 pm
organizer of this event, because when you talk about futility, one of the cases that eric described, this now i know the three-neck round bottom jug, the futility of trying to ban, to make illegal things that are kind of transparently innocuous legal, and then the process the market being what it is the process of getting around those restrictions. and this is a point and i'll admit that this is a topic that i had not studied very much until i read ted's paper and worked with him on it. and i was struck by in the case of synthetic drugs, the ease with which the manufacturers of these chemicals -- substances can evade restrictions by making very minor changes to the chemical composition to get
12:44 pm
around the law, but then, as we've already talked about they may inadvertently introduce new harms, right, to users who thought they were getting one thing and they're getting something else. ted, can you talk a little bit more about that concept because what we've seen is some really quite tortured legal reasoning to describe, you know, we're going to make illegal substances like this and others like them sort of thing. if we have laws that are that vaguely worded, it carries a whole host of threats to liberty, as jacob talked about. >> well first of all, i'd like to thank both eric and jacob for some excellent comments on the paper and the presentation. what chris has pointed out is an inherent dilemma that prohibitionists face. they either can have laws that are very specific, but when you're dealing with synthetic drugs, a very small change in
12:45 pm
chemical composition can suddenly create a substance that is no longer covered by law. and i believe "the washington post" article pointed out that currently there are about 350 varieties of synthetic drugs and counting. this constantly changes. so if you have specific bans this is like playing whack-a-mole. you ban one substance and then you get its first cousin or second cousin and that is perfectly legal. and prosecutors have to go after that and legislators have to go after that. the alternative is to enact very broad bans but as we have seen with other laws that are vague and overly broad that can lead to massive abuses of authority. and people who may have
12:46 pm
perfectly legitimate businesses suddenly find themselves under scrutiny, under prosecution and at times not even being clear on what law they have violated. so that is an option that i think is inherently destructive to a free society. but this is again, inevitable problem that prohibitionists confront particularly with synthetic drugs. all you need is an enterprising chemist to change the composition of a substance a little and the specific bans simply don't work. so there is an irresistible pressure to come up with broader and broader ever more vague bans, despite the destructive effects that that has on the rule of law. >> eric do you want to add to that? >> chris i do.
12:47 pm
ted, you've really put your finger on this. at the committee level as we were trying to figure out what to do with the call to take this action there was a great concern about due process. due process being how do you provide real notice to the public of what is permitted and what is prohibited. and we felt -- our witnesses spoke about this particular problem, that in the research into trying to find new compounds for medical purposes or otherwise, you are going to look at existing drugs because that's your starting point. you know we already know that these drugs are effective you know in a particular psychiatric way. let's see if tweaking it produces an effect that is really useful in medicine. and so there was this concern. and so we put in this language
12:48 pm
about intended for human consumption. those who are doing this experimentation for research purposes or for scientific purposes, they're not covered by the prohibition. the danger, i think we face now in 2015 is that congress is going to say you know, this human consumption thing that's too much of a barrier. it's too much of a barrier for congress, let's just take that out because these chinese, they're shipping the stuff and we can't prove that these chinese intended it for human consumption in the u.s. they're too far insulated from the actual consumption. when you take that out, then you end up with a prohibition that is really squishy. you know essentially any chemical that may produce these kinds of effects. and so you have a professor at a college who is doing research. suddenly, you know runs afoul
12:49 pm
because because, well, this is just too close to a prohibited drug. and so it is -- the danger in this current kind of political climate will, i think present a real problem if this law gets sort of further watered down. >> all right, very good. we do have some time for questions. just a few notes. please wait for the microphone for the benefit of those watching online. and identify yourself and your affiliation if you have one. one more thing, the jeopardy rule applies here at the cato institute which means please phrase your question in the form of a question. so with that in the back on the wall there, right there. >> i guess you would call me a prohibitionist. i've been involved in this since the nixon administration. my name is paula gordon. i have a website called
12:50 pm >> can you speak up just a little bit, ma'am. >> my name is paula gordon. i have a website called >> okay. i also had a also had a non-profit organization in california in berkeley, actually based in berkeley which was called the committee for psychedelic drug information and we tried to do everything we could to dissuade individuals particularly youngsters and college-age students not to use marijuana and other psychedelic drugs. what you've overlooked all of you have overlooked in this discussion is the fact that if you purify, so-called purify any of these substances you still have a psycho active substance which is addictive, which can be addictive. longitudinal studies in the last year have shown that one in six
12:51 pm
youngsters young people become addicted. one in ten adults become addicted to marijuana and what you're overlooking is that in order to ascertain the harmfulness of the substance, a pharmaceutical substance you have to go to the principal. no amount of thc should be used and even mpp has come out against it with this statement by someone who is driving. you should not drive under the influence of marijuana. okay? >> so the question is if you purify the substances and you get around the problem of them being contaminated you still have the issue of addiction or use from -- okay. that's the question. >> that's part of it. the other part is do you -- have you read the medical research?
12:52 pm
do you know there are people who contributed to the medical research who have not read the medical research? and they cherry pick those things but the major point -- two points -- >> please please ma'am. so we have a question on the table and then let's let the panelists respond. >> just one scientific fact. >> question? >> do you know that there was research in the '60s which showed that thc in normal human subjects can cause idiosyncratic psychotic effects? >> there is the question. did you know? two questions, actually. did you know? >> first of all, i'm always wary about the argument that some people can become addicted to substances, therefore we ought to outlaw those substances. you can do that with lots of
12:53 pm
substances. you can do it with all forms of behavior. certain percentage of people become addicted to gambling so therefore we ought to outlaw all games of chance. some people become addicted to high-fat foods. therefore, we ought to outlaw all high-fat foods. the -- obviously, some people become addicted to alcohol. that's why we have alcoholics so therefore we have the right to outlaw alcoholic beverages. that is not a sufficient reason, particularly in a free society. some people are going to be susceptible to poor decisions, poor behavior, compulsive behavior, but that is a price that we all have to pay to live in a free society unless we want some benevolent guardians of
12:54 pm
public morality to dictate everything that we do and that is a price i don't think any of us want to pay. >> chris? >> go ahead, eric. >> when i hear someone talk about the risks of addictions or the risks of adverse psychiatric consequences consequences, i think about the fact, i think of the jingle of dunk indoughnuts is america runs on dunkin because america runs on risk. our entire economic enterprise is based on risk. we look at people who want to be athletes and we admire their risk and people try to climb the matterhorn and fail. people try to do all kinds of things and fail. risk is built into the dna of america, and the risk of addiction, and the risk of these effects is real but small and it's a risk that people should be educated about and folks who
12:55 pm
want to stop this never, ever acknowledge the benefits of the use of these drugs. these drugs are beneficial and the evidence of that is the tens of millions of people who want to use them not because they're addicted but because the effects of these drugs are pleasurable. the effects are inspiring and transcendent. these are real effects of these drugs and people want to use them and that's why they want to continue to use them and not withstanding the risks. >> jacob you want to add to some of this? >> i think the lady makes some interesting points, first of all in her activity in apprising people of the dangers of drugs i think that's entirely something to be applauded. there are some -- sorry. there are drugs that are very dangerous and so forth. one of the beefs i have with sometimes in the marijuana
12:56 pm
legalization movement is that the argument is made that marijuana is not harmful and i find that problematic because my position is that that sort of implies if it is harmful it should be illegal and my argument in terms of freedom is that look, i'm assuming that drugs are the worst thing in the world for me but that is my business. that is no business of the state, and if i want to sit in my home to ingest heroin or cocaine or lsd and meth. that's my business and that's what being a free person is all about. she makes a valid point about driving on government-owned roads and public roads or, you know externalities of the drug -- children's rights fall under a different category but i say if you legalize drugs get rid of all of the unsavory
12:57 pm
suppliers which would go out of business immediately you are much better off having the supply and distribution of drugs with pharmaceuticals, pharmacies who are much more responsible when it comes to selling to children and minors than the unsavory elements that we have today. so in terms of freedom, legalize it, but keep people like her to apprise people of what a horrible thing it is to become a drug addict. i have no problems with that at all. >> sir, right here and then you. >> howard wooldridge retired law detective. this is for ted. on the relative harm of these synthetic drugs despite vicious rumors i never went past marijuana. it was a terminal drug for me so i have no clue what cocaine does et cetera. i went to the briefing in the congress three years ago and congressman pit of eastern pennsylvania had a dog and pony show with dea and he brought in an e.r. doc from one of his
12:58 pm
hospitals and gave us a couple of cases of where somebody came in and used bath salts or whatever and they acted badly. they did things that were harmful and reminded me, of course, of a police officer and the guy jumps out of a car at 48 miles an hour and said he wanted to get away from his girlfriend. the question is, relatively for people who could who know alcohol and can understand it, how relatively dangerous are bath salts in comparison to whiskey, alcohol or some other drug that we all pretty much have a common experience with? >> i would say these will be among the more dangerous substances, in part, here it is. you're never quite certain what all is in it which creates its own set of problems.
12:59 pm
and the effects are somewhat unpredictable, but it's good to always keep this in perspective. we've heard these stories before with regard to other substances and remember the stories about crack cocaine, 25, 30 years ago and the brilliant penalties that were enacted ten times as severe as for powdered cocaine. >> as though there was that kind of real difference in the effects. going back further you remember the lsd scare and those of us who were old enough in the 1960s. this was going to absolutely destroy american society. if you want to go back farther you go back to the late 1930s and reefer madness and obviously marijuana was a drug that was going to completely destroy western civilization. so i think we have to keep these
1:00 pm
scare stories in mind. there is that sense of deja vu. i would say with the synthetic drugs they appear to be more dangerous and more volatile than most of the natural psychoactive drugs so it's good to monitor this. education, definitely encourage people to stay away from these but that ought to be part of a larger package to create a legal drug structure and one that eliminates prohibition so that there are safe, legal alternatives for people who want to use psychoactive substances and we can continue this crusade of trying to prevent drug use. i'm one of these people who


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on